Wednesday, December 30, 2009

To the Max

Monday evening, we made a special trip to see Garth, Jen and Max at her parents' house in Savannah, Mo., since they were there for Christmas (from the D.C. area where they live). Max just turned 1, so he and Landon are less than two months apart.

Leslie had secretly arranged for two more of their close college friends to surprise Jen and meet us there, too. We spent several hours hanging out, and it was also great catching up with Jen's family, who we hadn't seen in several years.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Winter wonderland

Kansas City set a record for the biggest Christmas Day snowfall ever (and our first six-inch snowstorm in more than four years). On top of that, it was a true blizzard with 40 to 50 mile-per-hour winds.

This drift on our deck came up to my knee.

But it didn't take long before we bundled up and went out in it.

I figured it was better for us to slide down the street, than for cars to.

Heading back up the hill, to do it again!

Jack loves to throw snowballs at me. So, obviously, big chunks of snow are even better.

Digging a tunnel.

Just one of the many cool snow formations and peaks.

Heading up our deck stairs... my biggest fan.

It's pretty amazing what the wind and snow can do.

After awhile, I headed down to the creek behind our house.

Then over to the pond. "Three geese a-laying..."


Monday, December 28, 2009

Merry and bright

Last year, we started a new tradition where the boys get to open one gift on Christmas Eve night — new jammies!

Then, right before bed, we got out a special item that Jack made at his classroom's holiday party — magical reindeer food. The tag tied to the jar read:

The Legend of Magical Reindeer Dust
It has once been said,
That right before you go to bed.
You should sprinkle magic reindeer food,
To quickly bring Santa and his brood.
For many years the legend’s been told,
To boys and girls, both young and old.
Sprinkle the food throughout your yard,
Then finding your house won’t be so hard!
The reindeer can smell it for hundreds of miles,
Just do not leave it in big piles.
Then you must go to sleep very fast,
So Santa and his reindeer will not pass.

And to think, that in all my years I'd never heard of such a thing. But it was brilliant because, as excited as Jack was for Christmas, he immediately went upstairs and let me tuck him into bed! And told us to go to bed right away, too!

But then, AT 3:51 A.M., Jack ran into our room to announce that Santa had come. At 3:51! I don't know if you've ever tried, but there's no use in getting a child to go back to bed when he is six years old, is "highly excitable," it's Christmas morning and Santa has just been at your house. Even if it is 3:51 a.m.

So there we were, opening presents at 4 in the morning. In the middle of a blizzard.

Oh well, time to fire up the Johnny Mathis CD. Here we go...

Jack showing how the wrapping paper matches his new pajamas.

He got lots of old-fashioned, low-tech toys like this slingshot, a marshmallow bow and arrow from Santa, a set of marbles, real metal jacks, an Etch-a-Sketch, a wall calendar, a coloring/activity book, etc. Oh, and a Wii.

Then Landon woke up (at a much more reasonable hour) and we all played together for the rest of the day.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Eve eve

The evening of Dec. 23, Jackson and I made a birthday cake for Jesus. We used the Fudgy Ripple Cake (and Fudgy Glaze) recipe from our Cooking for Kids & Kids' Party Food cookbook.

We decided that he was the chef and I was the sous chef...

...because the sous chef is the one who cleans up afterward.

Cooking's a great opportunity to practice measurements and fractions, but when it came to making the chocolate filling — I got to teach him about "creative license."

Action shot.

A couple "outtakes."

He also learned the hazards of licking the entire bowl — batter in your hair!

Thank goodness I found these special candles in the cupboard. I was starting to wonder how many candles you have to put on a birthday cake for Jesus.

And when Jackson blew them out, it gave us a great chance to talk about what He would wish for.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Special delivery

Last Sunday, my mom drove down from Nebraska with the sole purpose of giving the boys their Christmas gifts. It was great just hanging out, playing together and getting to spend the day with her.

Jack was amazed by this personalized video from Santa Claus!

Reading Jack a bedtime story (from the musical Christmas book she gave him last year).

Friday, December 25, 2009


Earlier this week, we went to Christmas in the Park at Longview Lake for the first time. It's a free, drive-through display of more than 300,000 animated Christmas lights!

That's the crescent moon beneath this arch.

This gingerbread girl was "bouncing" on the trampoline.

But one of my favorite things was hearing Jackson sing along to Christmas music in the car!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Two weeks ago, Shane, Alex and I roadtripped to Florence, Ala., for Northwest's national championship game. After driving all day long, we got there just in time for the Friday night social — in "downtown Flo Town" — where we met Naomi, the newest Bearcat fan around. She'd been to one Northwest game in her life: the week before.

Who knew Florence has so much culture? Certainly not the locals.

Unfortunately, we stayed at The Economy Inn. So much for KTSB. Where do I even start? When checking in, the manager came to unlock the front door ... barefoot. The first thing I said upon entering our room was, "Were we supposed to pay extra for lightbulbs?" And if I had to describe it in one word, it would be "God-forsaken."

We suggest its new tagline be either "That which doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Take your pick." or "How bad can it be? Come see for yourself."

Of course I took many more pictures than just this one (of the shower wall), but they:
1. Are for evidence.
2. Run the risk of having Blogspot shut me down for gross indecency.
3. Are in case you ever consider staying at The Economy Inn.

Luckily, we returned the remote control first thing in the morning and left for the Northwest tailgate party as soon as we could. We had front row "seats" for both the pep rally and to cheer on the team as they exited the buses following the police escort to the stadium.

Almost gametime.

Over the past four years, Northwest's seniors compiled an incredible record of 53-6, never lost a conference game (36-0) and were 28-1 on their home field.

The flyover at the end of the Star Spangled dance remix. (It was wierd.)

Our favorite highlights of the game were:
— Northwest converting four first downs in only six plays on its opening scoring drive.
— In the second quarter, Northwest breaking a 48-yard punt return, thanks to a monster block that leveled the Grand Valley State defender. (That night, it was ESPN's No. 3 play of the day!) One play later, LaRon Council scored on a 17-yard touchdown run that gave Northwest a 21-0 halftime lead.
— In the fourth quarter (when things were looking hairy), Northwest faced third down and 22 at Grand Valley's 44 yard line when Council caught a short pass and broke several tackles for an 18-yard gain. On the next play, Northwest went for it on fourth down ... and scored with a 26-yard touchdown pass!
— Grand Valley State, a team that loves to run the ball, being held to only 91 rushing yards.

My favorite sign.


At the post-game celebration.

Alex "with" Sean Paddock. Just like he's "with" Sean Paddock's girlfriend.